Question posed to candidates on how they would transform Island life for the better

This week we asked the people vying for your vote on July 4 the following question, asking them to respond in 100 words or fewer.

“Putting aside the issues with the cross-Solent ferries, which single party policy or idea do you have that would transform Island life for the better?”

Here are their answers in the order in which they responded:

West Wight

Ian Pickering – Reform UK
Train our young people in the skills needed to build and service the proper, affordable, social rental and private properties for them. The Island has enough four-bedroomed detached properties. We need small developments, including some built in rural areas, to enable young people to become independent in the area that they were bought up in, maintaining family ties and support.

Housing generates further economic activity, furnishing, maintenance, improvements, insurance, etc., and these in turn generate more employment which feeds into the economy.

Employment here will encourage our young people to stay and invest in the future of the Island.

Richard Quigley – Labour
Housing, by committing to social and council homes, we have the opportunity to provide every Islander with their own front door.

There are 2,400 households on the housing waiting list here, and 200 families in emergency accommodation. Insecure housing leads to problems such as poor health and poor education outcomes. Our freedom-to-buy scheme will mean that first-time buyers, that can afford their mortgage payments, but can’t save a large deposit, will be eligible for a government guaranteed mortgage.

Cameron Palin – Green
All Islanders have faced the huge impact of the cost of living crisis, including me and my family. Rent, food, electricity and inflation have all gone up. We need to see a raise in minimum wage to £15 an hour, increasing Universal Credit by £40 a week, and abolish the two-child benefit cap. Abolishing the two-child benefit cap would see 250,000 children lifted out of poverty.

Providing free school meals for all Primary and Secondary, plus breakfast clubs for pupils up to year 6, would ensure all children receive at least one hot meal. We can deliver real hope and real change for Islanders.

Bob Seely – Conservative
I want planning laws to work better for Islanders. That means better protection for our natural world and flexibility to deliver affordable homes for Islanders. I’m already working towards this. I won a commitment from government giving our council the opportunity to plead ‘exceptional circumstances’ – to be treated differently on planning policy because of our unique Island status.

I’m also pushing for ‘Island Park’ status to give the Island even more protection and a single plan for nature. In contrast, Keir Starmer is happy to build on the green belt and, in his words, “back the builders, not the blockers”.

Nick Stuart – Liberal Democrat
It’s the economy and jobs. For over 20 years I’ve watched the Island struggle to create and retain good businesses, while training and attracting the skilled people we need.

Our lifeblood is innovative small companies such as Ventnor Fringe, Innovative Physics and the Garlic Farm. We need to attract the IW diaspora and deliver hope and enterprise to an Island that sometimes does not believe in itself.

Housing for locals, poverty prevention and better education are part of providing a settled base for a skilled workforce, but it starts with Island legislation to treat us fairly and support our economy.

Rachel Thacker who is standing for the Alliance for Democracy and Freedom did not respond.

 

East Wight

Michael Lilley – Liberal Democrat
The Lib Dems would boost small businesses and empower them to create new local jobs, including abolishing business rates and replacing them with a Commercial Landowner Levy to help our high streets. The Island is reliant on small businesses growing, and we need to make sure our high streets are thriving. As Mayor of Ryde for 4 years, I led the development of Ryde Town Council, so Ryde did not only survive Covid19 but economically grow. I would want to see this in the Bay area and in Ventnor by listening and supporting local small business leaders.

David Groocock – Independent
Above all the Island needs more central government funding. If Levelling Up funding is still available, I would like this used around all the coastal resorts, to kick start the regeneration of the Bay area, and this would be enlarged to include Ventnor.

Although Ryde has been promised £20 million, it is not enough to improve Island life generally. Levelling up means, to me, improving peoples’ lifestyles, so they do not have to rely on handouts and foodbanks. We need, as an Island, to be recognised as not part of the rich South East and open up genuine help.

Vix Lowthion – Green Party
Want to save money? Check. Reduce waste? Check. Have a warm home? Check. Reduce your carbon emissions? Of course! Then as your MP – with a group of Green MPs – my transformational policy would be a comprehensive programme of retrofitting social and private housing, through grants, to insulate homes to EPC B standard. Yes, we need NHS dentists, free public transport, improved wildlife habitats and clean beaches – and I’d work for them too. But properly insulated homes will save money and keep us all warm. The cheapest bill is the one you don’t have to pay.

Sarah Morris – Reform UK
Making work pay! Upping the tax threshold to £20,000 has been one of the most popular on the doorstep. We have many other issues that Reform have amazing policies for, but this one could be implemented immediately and is very simple to do. No expensive civil servant bill either. People need to feel like their hard work is appreciated and rewarded, and everyone would be able to relax and enjoy life a little more if they were less worried about their bills. More cash in pockets would, in turn, help businesses ,too, growing the economy.

Joe Robertson – Conservative
Island life would be transformed by better opportunities for Islanders. If elected as your new MP, I would be the Island’s biggest ambassador, encouraging new businesses to invest here and supporting our local employers to expand and create more jobs.

More well-paid, skilled and permanent jobs on the Island will help raise living standards for everyone. The Island needs to be a great place to build a career and raise a family, as well as to retire to. I want to help make the Island an even better place to and live, work, grow up and grow old.

Emily Brothers who is standing for Labour did not respond.